Tag Archives: Middle Eastern

Roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar

13 Oct

Here is a great recipe from the fabulous Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I love this cookbook, because everything I have made from it has been delicious – but I admit I have not made too many of the recipes because a lot of them are very involved and use a lot of sometimes-hard-to-find ingredients.

This one is relatively simple, and these days, tahini and za’atar (a Middle Eastern herb/spice blend) are relatively easy to find. If you don’t have a Middle Eastern grocery in your area, you can order them online.

The book calls for the squash to be roasted with the skin on. I did not do this because I started with a gigantic butternut squash. In addition to this dish, I made a batch of Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili and froze a bunch of squash cubes to make another soup when the chili is gone. So I used butternut squash cubes instead of wedges and they work perfectly fine. You can save some time and energy by buying pre-peeled and pre-cut squash cubes.

The dish has an interesting combination of flavors, colors and textures. It works well as an appetizer or as a side dish.

I changed the directions slightly, because the onions take less time to roast than the squash, so rather than starting them at the same time, I suggest roasting the squash alone first, then adding the onions.

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash (about 2¼ lb.), cut into ¾-in. x 2.5-inch wedges
2 red onions, cut vertically into 1¼-inch wedges
3½ Tbs. olive oil
3½ Tbs. light tahini paste
1½ Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. water
1 small clove garlic, crushed and chopped fine
3½ Tbs. pine nuts
1 Tbs. za’atar
1 Tbs. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Put the squash in a large mixing bowl, add 3 Tbs. of the oil, 1 tsp. salt and some black pepper and toss well. Spread on a baking sheet with the skin facing down and roast for 30 to 40 minutes (peeled cubes may take a little less time).

After 15 minutes, add the onions, and stir well to get the onions coated with the oil. Stir frequently so everything cooks evenly. When the squash and the onions are fully cooked and have browned somewhat, reove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Make the sauce: place the tahini in a small bowl and add the lemon juice, water, garlic and ¼ tsp. salt. Whisk until the sauce is the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini if necessary.

Put the remaining 1½ tsp. oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and ½ tsp. salt and cook for about 2 minutes until the nuts are golden brown (be careful, because they can burn really easily!) Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts and oil to a small bowl to stop the cooking.

To serve, spread the vegetables out on a large serving platter and drizzle over the tahini. Sprinkle the pine nuts and their oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.

Serves 4


Tahini Grilled Chicken

30 Aug

Tahini chicken

I like to keep tahini, the Middle Eastern sesame paste, on hand, but it’s not something I use often. My last jar sat in the fridge for years before I used it up (and no, it didn’t spoil!). Now I have a new jar, so I’m on the lookout for interesting new recipes. This one was very tasty. We ate it fresh off the grill one night and then enjoyed the leftovers sliced on top of a green salad a few days later. The taste is intriguing and I liked it a lot even though my husband said it reminded him of Marmite, the awful English “yeast extract.” If you can find tahini, give this a try!

(This recipe is adapted from one I clipped from the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia.)

Ingredients:

¼ cup tahini
¼ cup soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
2 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
2 Tbs. honey
2 lb. boneless chicken breasts
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients except the chicken and place in a sealable Ziploc bag. Add the chicken and move it around a bit so all the chicken is coated. Place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

An hour before cooking, remove from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.

Heat a grill to high and sear the chicken for one to two minutes per side. Turn off the heat on one area of the grill and move the chicken to the unheated side. If you are using charcoal, push the chicken to the edges of the grill where there is the least amount of heat.

(We have an electric grill, and so I heated it up almost as high as it would go, cooked the chicken for a short time on each side, then turned the heat down to medium.)

Cover and allow the chicken to “roast” on the grill, about six minutes per side, until done.  Total cooking time should be about 15 minutes.

Remove to a platter, cover with foil and allow to sit for five minutes before serving, garnished with chopped fresh parsley if you like.

Serves 4 to 6